Monday, May 3, 2010

Rilke, Kaminsky, Millay

"Who, if I cried out, might hear me-among the ranked Angels?
Even if One suddenly clasped me to his heart
I would die of the force of his being. For Beauty is only
the infant of scarcely endurable Terror, and we
are amazed when it casually spares us.
Every Angel is terrible.
And so I check myself, choke back my summoning
black cry. Who'll help us then? Not Angels,
not Mankind; and the nosing beasts soon scent
how insecurely we're housed in this signposted World.
And yet a tree might grow for us upon some hill
for us to see and see again each day. Perhaps
we have yesterday's streets. Perhaps we keep
the pampered loyalty of some old habit
which loved its life with us - and stayed, never left us."
How longer to live upon Earth!"

--Rainer Maria Rilke, from "Die erste Elegie," THE DUINO ELEGIES

"The back of her knee: a blessed territory, I keep /
my wishes there.
But Natalia, beside me, turns the pages,
what happened and did not happen
must speak and sing by turns.
On the night I met her, the Rabbi sang and sighed,
god's lips on his brow, Torah in his arms.
- I unfastened her stockings, worried

that I have stopped worrying.
She slept in my bed--I slept on a chair,
she slept on a chair--I slept in the kitchen,

she left her slippers in y shower, in my Torah,
her slippers in each sentence I spoke.
Someone else is on this page, writing. I attempt /
to move my fingers faster than she.
And each night, looking up, we saw ourselves:
a man and a woman, whispering Lord,
one word the soul destroys to make clear."

--Ilya Kaminsky, from "Natalia," DANCING IN ODESSA

"To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beautyis not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers."

--Edna St. Vincent Millay, from "Spring," SECOND APRIL

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